AAS 206th Meeting, 29 May - 2 June 2005
Session 14 Astrophysics with Optical Interferometry
Poster, Monday, 9:20am-6:30pm, Tuesday, 10:00am-7:00pm, May 30, 2005, Ballroom A

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[14.07] Preparations For An Astrometric Search Of Terrestrial Planets With SIM PlanetQuest

C. R. Gelino (Caltech), M. Shao, A. M. Tanner (JPL), A. Niedzielski (Penn State Univ.)

The Extrasolar Planet Interferometric Survey (EPIcS; PI: M. Shao) is a key project for SIM PlanetQuest. EPIcS will survey 150 of the nearest stars for planets with masses a few times that of the Earth (the Tier 1 survey). We have begun significant ground-based efforts to ensure the success of the planet finding projects. For example, we are using the adaptive optics system at Palomar Observatory to search for bright (\Deltamag<6), close (<2\arcsec) companions to our targets since these companions can create confusion in the fringe patterns of the targets. Also, because of the high precision needed for the Tier 1 sample, a set of close (<1.5\arcdeg) reference stars is required. The astrometric stability of these references is crucial for finding the tiny astrometric signatures (a few \muas) of a planet around the target star. Consequently, all reference stars are being RV-vetted for stellar and planetary companions. Finally, simulations are being conducted to estimate the astrometric effects of starspots in the target star. In this poster we present preliminary results of our adaptive optics campaign, during which we have discovered candidate companions for \approx10 targets of \approx100 observed. We also discuss our reference star selection criteria, the ongoing RV program, and results of multiple-epoch observations for a few stars (<1% of 500 observed stars). Finally, we present results from our numerical simulations and their implications for planet finding.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: cgelino@gps.caltech.edu

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 37 #2
© 2005. The American Astronomical Soceity.